02.26.10 — Ironman St. George Bike Course X2

Type: Riding the Course
Distance: 90.61 miles
TSS: 392.2
Time: 5:30:10
Average Watts: 152 watts
Normative Power: 190 watts
Average Heart Rate:
Total Work: 3,762 kJ

Total Climbing: 5,100 ft.

Man on man this was a tough ride. I will tell you this, it took me about 30 minutes longer than I thought it would. The Ironman St. George consists of two loops and and because there is some weather moving in tomorrow, I wanted to make sure I got in one ride of two loops. I did those today. The ride was tough but manageable. You can see from my average watts (150 for the entire ride and 190 while I was pedalling) that I was really after my pedals today.

The uphill lasts about 30 miles from the time you cross Bluff St. on Snow Canyon Pkwy.  By the time you turn onto CR- 3184, you are still pretty strong. There really isn’t too much of anything through Ivins that will challenge you. Once you do turn on to CR-3184 you start up the canyon to the Gunlock Reservoir, you will start to get challenged. There are a couple of short uphills that will push up your heart rate and make you push up your power, but nothing that should make you burn any matches.

The real challenge comes after you pass through the town of Gunlock, there will be some real tough hills. The first will come as you pass by the Eagle Mountain Ranch. The hill is about a 12% grade for probably about .25 miles. I was pushing 350 watts the whole way up. The Eagle Mountain Hill is manageable, but you will burn at least one match on this hill. The challenge is how you manage this hill will dictate what happens on “the switchbacks.”

A couple of miles later you will come to a hard right turn and start up this very long and steep hill. This hill is unreal. I think the grade is about 12% and it is at least a mile long. I run a 11-25 on the back and I am going to get that switched out for a 11-27 for the race. I looked at one point and my heart rate was up at 175 bpm and I was running at 275 watts for the entire hill. Once you get tot he top, you just thank everything holy that you made it up. This is the section of the course that will separate the trained from the untrained.

You have some rollers for the next several miles until you hit the town of Veyo. On the other side of town is the volcano everyone gets worked up about. This hill wouldn’t be so bad if you hadn’t just ridden Eagle Mountain and The Switchbacks. Just like the other two huge hills, this one will be all about pacing from the bottom to the top. Not impossible with the right discipline.

Post Ride Thoughts
This ride will be all about pacing. You will have to be very careful on the flats and the downhills to make sure you don’t burn out your legs. Since we have a marathon after the ride, I am going to coast down the canyon. I was hitting 35 mph coming down the canyon without pedaling at all. This will be the same strategy I use on race day. So, you need to know how to descend in your aerobars. Really fast. If you don’t you will be a danger to yourself and to the other racers.

I ran out of water about 45 miles in and thought I could find a spot to fill up somewhere. I couldn’t find the convenience store everyone talks about. For some reason, it was in stealth mode today. So I literally had about 550 calories until mile 75 on this ride. I was riding with Infinit today, but needed water to make more. I was also carrying those Jelly Belly Sport Beans just for fun. At mile 75 I knew I had a couple of hills left and I was really dying out there. I pounded a package of the Sport Beans and it was an instant rush. Of course, they are made of sugar and corn syrup, so once you start them you couldn’t ever stop, but they got me to the end of the ride.

The road is pretty rough. I had my tires at 130 psi and for a race I usually run 140 psi. It will be even rougher on race day. The surface is old school chip seal, so it is really, really rough. If possible, it would be preferable to ride in the right wheel ruts. There are some cattle guards at the top of the course on some downhill sections, and it is my hope that Ironman NA covers those bad boys up. Those sections will be a real traffic jam. I am not looking forward to navigating those. 

The downhill coming down the canyon is not very technical. The speeds are great, but there are not any tight turns. You will have to pay attention as I am sure there will be people sitting up because they are not used to descending in that fast in the aerobars. I hope they close that section of road to traffic or at least push everyone over and out of the right lane to let riders have the space they need to stay safe. Ironman NA, are you listening? 

This is going to be a fun race…Here is the map for the course. Let me know if you have any questions about the course!

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...